The same sun shone down,
And the church looked just the same,
But a world away.
And new believers,
At home here, sought connection,
And on that Sunday,
The music sounded the same,
But the words were new.
And both would smile in
This new and ancient landscape,
Worlds joined in music.
I love the things I find during my random walks through music history. I was doing research on Tomás Luis de Victoria (around 1548-1611; you’ll see a post on him soon) when I found out that he published a collection of his music for distribution throughout Europe and the New World. The New World. I hadn’t thought about it before. Typically, newly built colonial cities in the Americas had a central town square, and on one side of this square there was always a church, if not a cathedral. And these churches needed music.
Victoria’s music traveled to Bogota, Colombia; Lima and Cusco, Peru; Mexico City, Mexico; and other cities in the New World. The Spanish composer Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla didn’t send his music; he came to Mexico, composed music in the city of Puebla, and was the music director of the city’s cathedral. Composer Juan García de Zéspedes, born in Puebla, studied under Gutiérrez de Padilla and later succeeded him as the music director.
At the cathedral of Santiago de Guatemala, now Antigua Guatemala, the Portuguese composer Gaspar Fernandes compiled a collection of choral music written by him and by the Spanish composers Francisco Guerrero, Cristóbal de Morales, and Pedro Bermúdez. Fernandes and Bermúdez were also active at the cathedral in Puebla, Mexico.
I discovered that there is a wealth of information on sacred and secular music in the Americas in the 1500s and 1600s. Some are listed in the references, but there are many more.
I had only begun to scratch the surface when this music stopped me in my tracks, music that I needed to share. The first vocal polyphonic work published in the New World (in 1631) is from Peru, and it is in the Quechua language. It is Hanacpachap cussicuinin, a hymn to the Virgin Mary. And it is beautiful. Here are the words of the first verse (presented today in Haiku form):
O, Joy of Heaven,
We praise you a thousand times,
Tree of thrice-blessed fruit.
Hope of humankind,
You help all those who are weak.
Attend to our prayer.
- Tomás Luis de Victoria, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom%C3%A1s_Luis_de_Victoria.
- Sacred Music: God’s Composer. Music by Tomás Luis de Victoria. BBC DVD, 2012. https://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Music-Gods-Composer-Victoria/dp/B006ZBJJI2
- Cramer, Eugene, Tomás Luis de Victoria: A Guide to Research. Psychology Press, 1998, 53-72.
- Bowers, Teresa, “The Golden Age of Choral Music in the Cathedrals of Colonial Mexico,” The Choral Journal, Vol 40 No 9 (April 2000) pp 9-13 via jstor.org.
- Escalada, Oscar, “Hanaqpachaq: The First Polyphonic Work Published (and Composed?) in the New World” [trans., ed. David Castleberry], The Choral Journal, Vol 43 No 2 (September 2002) pp 9-16 via jstor.org.
- Also see works by musicologist Robert Stevenson.
Image attribution: Juan Pérez Bocanegra. Ritual, formulario, e institución de curas para administrar a los naturales de este reyno, los santos sacramentos del baptismo, confirmacion, eucaristia, y viatico, penitencia, extremauncion, y matrimonio: con aduertencias muy necessarias. Lima: Geronymo de Contreras, 1631, p 708, via the Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/ritualformulario00pr.